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From the Vault: News from the Feb. 16, 1940 edition of the Middletown Journal

Posted 2/21/18

Edward Laverty dies in hospital from injuries, rendered unconscious when struck by tree limb

Edward Laverty, aged 35 years, a resident of Water and Nissley streets, died at 1:46 o’clock, …

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From the Vault: News from the Feb. 16, 1940 edition of the Middletown Journal


Winter storm really snowed everyone; after 25 inches falls, township and borough officials pick up stranded motorists, give them shelter

Simple chores like buying a loaf of bread, having a cup of coffee at a neighbor’s house or driving a car became major tasks for area residents last weekend when the area was in-undated with a record-breaking 25 inches of snow.

Most local municipalities declared snow emergencies by Friday afternoon, some of which are still in effect.

Officials from several boroughs and townships even rescued those stranded on local highways and provided food, beds and shelter Friday night.

Londonderry Township’s Civil Defense Director Dennis Murray started rounding up volunteers with snowmobiles drive vehicles anticipating problems that evening. Sure enough, the problems came with the mounting snowfall.

Rescue crews started picking up stranded motorists on Route 283 at 6 p.m. Friday and continued through 2:30 a.m. Saturday.

More than 125 people were taken to the township’s fire department, and when that shelter was filled to capacity, with about 79 persons, Middletown volunteers transported 46 in the borough’s Mid-Comm unit and in other four-wheel drive vehicles and provided and four-wheel drive vehicles food, beds and shelter for them at the MCSO. Volunteers from the borough also rescued motorists stranded on the airport connector road.

Among those stranded were truck drivers, and families with infants, doctors, State Police troopers and persons from as close as Derry Township and as far away as Illinois.

All those housed in the two areas were given a medical check before they left to dig out their cars Saturday morning after PennDOT crews had cleared the roads.

Volunteers worked around the clock in the township and the borough, driving, setting up cots, or cooking hot soup. Red Cross volunteers, township supervisors and members of the Londonderry Fire Company’s Ladies Auxiliary, among others, helped in the township, while Councilman Donald Smith, Mayor Bob Reid, Ken and Sherry Manfred, Betsy Enterline and a host of other volunteers provided help for those staying in the Middletown shelter.

Some of those rescued from their vehicles had been stranded for up to eight hours, yet only four suffered from exposure, and those cases were not serious.

All told, Londonderry Township volunteers put in 630 man-hours helping stranded motorists.

Council president gets boot

After serving only half of his two-year term as Middletown Borough Council president, Melvin “Pete” Seiders was ousted from that position Monday night by a vote of 5-3-1.

The Council veteran was replaced by first-year Councilman Dennis Stover.

The motion to open the office of president was initiated by First Ward Councilman Stover. He supported his motion by charging that council was floundering under the leadership of Seiders and that borough employee morale was at an all-time low.

Voting to declare the president’s seat vacant were First Ward Councilmen Stover and Earl Bright; Second Ward Councilmen James Grim and David Judy; and Third Ward Councilman Robert Bitner. Opposing the motion were Second Ward Councilman Donald Smith; and Third Ward Councilmen Andrew Burger and David Rhen. Seiders abstained from the vote.

Stover also maintained that council was divided into factions and that the president himself was a part of a faction. Therefore, the First Ward councilman said, the council needs a change in leadership to put it back on an even keel and in the right direction.

Soon after the vote was taken to unseat Seiders, nominations were opened for his successor. While four men were nominated, three declined, leaving Stover as the only candidate.

The vote was similar to the first, with Stover voted in as council president by a 5-3-1 vote. It was Rhen, however, who abstained.

Councilmen supporting Stover's nomination were Bright, Grim, Judy, Bitner and Stover. Councilmen voting against Stover, and supporters of Seiders, were Smith, Burger and Seiders. Seiders sat calmly throughout the proceedings, explaining that he serves as president at the request of the other councilmen and that he could be removed by a voice vote. He added that he feels he has served the borough and led council admirably, but said he would gladly step down if council so voted.

153 acres may be ripe for development

Developers’ plans could turn into the eventual construction of a housing development that could rival the size of the Village of Pineford if an agreement can be made with the Middletown Borough Authority and Borough Council.

At a special meeting of the Borough Authority on Thursday, Feb. 3, Walter Reider, a trustee of the Emaus Orphan House, told the board that two developers are interested in a 153-acre tract of land situated north of the Pennsylvania Turnpike and east of the Middletown Area High School. Reider did not reveal who the developers are, but pointed out that a similar interest in the land was killed about 10 years ago.

According to Reider, the real estate was once part of Lower Swatara Township, but was annexed to the borough of Middletown about 25 years ago.

“Development of that land,” he said, “could bring added revenues to the borough in the form of water, sewer, and electric fees in addition to broadening the tax base.”

Reider refused to specify what type of development is being considered. He did say that the construction of single family dwellings is unlikely due to current interest rates, and cost of water, sewer and curbing hookups.

Ruling out single family dwellings by Reider could possibly infer that townhouses or condominiums are being considered in the project.

Reider added that he believes residents need some incentive to stay in the Middletown area.

Headlines from the edition

• Raiders drop wrestling match while Falcons triumph

• Wealth of musical talent to converge

Hot buys

Hot buys

• Now there really is a better way to sleep! In a waterbed. We will give you $100 for your old bedding, no matter what the size or shape. Roth’s, 29 S. Union St., Middletown.

• Simply dynamite: the 1982 Kawasaki 750 LTD. Was $3,199. Now $2,549. Koups Cycle Shop, 189 N. Harrisburg St., Oberlin.